GEFCO partners with Actility and Wakeo to develop a new track and trace solution for motorcycles cradles

Gefco truck with mountain landscape

The Actility Newsroom

GEFCO partners with Actility and Wakeo to develop a new track and trace solution for motorcycles cradles

This partnership with Actility and Wakeo allows GEFCO to provide an innovative, tailor-made solution to streamline cradle management processes in Europe, reinforcing its leading position in automotive logistics.

This latest development also demonstrates the unique added value brought to customers by GEFCO’s innovation strategy, which last year led to the start of another key partnership, with accelerator Techstars.

An innovative, tailor-made solution bringing added value to customers

Once motorcycles leave the factory, they are stored and transported to dealers’ facilities on cradles. A shortage of cradles generates additional costs and production management problems. Cradles are not easy to track and are sometimes lost or stolen, which reduces manufacturers’ fleets and leads to delivery delays. GEFCO has developed a unique tailor-made solution to solve operational issues and streamline cradle management processes in Europe by partnering with Actility, a leading LoRaWAN solution provider, and Wakeo, the provider of a real-time visibility platform.

  • Actility is a global leader in LoRaWAN solutions. LoRaWAN is a low power wireless protocol for wide area networks that allows devices to communicate with IoT applications over long-range wireless connections (up to 15 kilometers) with extended battery life (up to 10 years). Actility powers more than 50 public LoRaWAN service providers in over 30 countries, along with managed enterprise networks for dedicated vertical IoT solutions. Actility also enables multi-country geolocation solutions through its LoRaWAN roaming hub and Abeeway, its subsidiary that makes low power, long-life trackers.
  • Wakeo provides a SaaS platform to bring real-time visibility on B2B multimodal transport flows. The software aggregates transport providers’ data and guarantees data quality by enriching it with independent information (IoT data from hardware partners, AIS and satellite data). Using in-house algorithms, Wakeo predicts times of arrival and sends proactive alerts to enable operational teams to anticipate delays.

A collective intelligence solution to meet customers’ needs

Smart trackers have been provided by Actility and installed on the cradles to provide positions with an accuracy up to three meters and a battery lifetime of more than seven years. Tracker data is then collected via the LoRaWAN networks and analyzed on the Wakeo platform. This platform updates the motorcycles’ estimated arrival time at the dealer’s facility in real time. The platform also allows the user to locate the cradles, showing if and when they have been delayed. Automated alerts are sent to operational teams about delays. Thanks to this system, motorcycle manufacturers can make sure the initial transport plan is being followed, while being informed of possible delivery delays and the cradles’ return.

“The integration of these two innovative solutions will give GEFCO customers a comprehensive overview of their flows. They will benefit from real-time, predictive, cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for managing logistics resources and complex supply chains. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our innovation strategy and confirms the added value that our partnership with Techstars can bring to our customers,” commented Emmanuel Cheremetinski, Executive Vice-President Inland at GEFCO.

Last year, GEFCO also initiated another key partnership, with Techstars, as part of its innovation strategy to explore and invent new business lines. This strategy has three priorities: detecting new ideas and opportunities with the Innovation Watch and Business Intelligence teams, testing new ideas proposed by internal teams at the GEFCO Innovation Factory, and investing in specific projects with Innovation Funding.

IoT geolocation enables asset tracking for logistics

IoT asset tracking

The Actility Blog

IoT geolocation enables asset tracking for logistics

IoT asset tracking

Railway cars, truck trailers, containers: tracking valuable assets on the move is a pain point for most large distributed organizations involved in logistics and supply chain, typically relying on partners such as distributors to correctly register check-in and check-out events. This registration process at specific checkpoints is usually manual, intermittent and subject to human errors. To tackle this issue, an IoT low power asset tracking system using LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) trackers brings a “timeless” checkpoint solution. Specifically, LoRaWAN™-based trackers, because of their low power, low cost and lightweight infrastructure, provide a first truly reliable tracking solution allowing to reduce downtime during transportation. 

The challenges involved

In the logistics sector, many business cases involve additional costs due to inefficient utilization of assets. Transport companies need to invest in freight railway cars, car logistics companies need to invest in truck trailers, and of course there are the standard containers and pallets.

“The profitability of these business cases directly depends on the minimization of asset downtime: every day or hour lost in a warehouse, parking or rail station reduces the number of times the moving asset will generate profit in a year.”

However, measuring this downtime is also a challenge. Traditional solutions involved cellular or satellite trackers, which require significant CAPEX, but perhaps more importantly also ongoing OPEX due to battery replacements and connectivity costs. In some cases, trackers are located in hard to reach areas especially when mounted on railroad cars, or in oil and gas rigs, which makes it very costly to replace batteries especially if there are several hundreds of thousands of trackers deployed in the field. The battery replacement is done by humans and is one of the dominating OPEX factors in overall Total Cost of Ownership ( TCO) of the whole solution. These replacement costs actually made it difficult to justify the mass adoption of conventional geolocation solutions in the logistics sector.

LPWAN trackers: a game changer 

LoRaWAN  is a very recent development leveraged by Actility, the industry leader in LPWAN connectivity, to create disruption in both the technology and business models. On the technology front, the main impact is on drastic reduction of power consumption, which reduces battery usage and ultimately also OPEX related to ongoing maintenance. It also creates new opportunities for more dynamic tracking, as communication events are less costly. On the business model side, logistics companies can now trade off between CAPEX and OPEX: most LPWAN systems operate on an unlicensed band, for example the leading LoRaWAN™  technology operates in the 915MHz band in the US, the 868MHz band in Europe and equivalent ISM bands in other parts of the world. This means that logistics companies can invest in their own wireless networks to reduce or eliminate variable connectivity costs.

“The cost of LPWAN radio network gateways has decreased due to higher production volumes and are now affordable even to very small logistic centers, such as a car distributor. “

Next generation LPWAN trackers

The potential of LPWAN-enabled tracking requires a new generation of hardware. The lower radio frequency power consumption is only a part of a massive effort to decrease overall power consumption of the whole system. And rather than focusing on geolocation technology, Abeeway, Actility’s subsidiary,  took the path of developing a smart multi-technology geolocation system fully optimized for LoRaWAN™. Ultra-low power technologies such as TDoA LoRaWAN network triangulation, WiFi sniffing, or BLE beacons, will be used whenever possible, along with the classic GPS optimized through techniques such as Low power GPS and D-AGPS (learn more about our Low power GPS technology here). Trackers from Abeeway were the first to reach sufficient maturity to be deployed in a use case requiring tens of thousands of units, with relatively low-cost assets (such as scooters), which means that reliability, low cost and low power were an absolute must. In the case of asset tracking, dedicated modes such as Start/Stop reporting have been developed: logistic application developers, can trigger the reporting events only when motion stops or starts, but also periodically to increase resiliency.

LoRaWAN and LP-GPS (AGPS/GPS) significantly increases battery lifetime

LPWAN LoRa low power geolocation

Merging an IoT network solution such as LoRaWAN with  multi-mode geolocation technologies for outdoor and indoor positioning increase by at least a factor of 10 the battery lifetime compared to the standard cellular solution using GSM/AGPS. Source: Actility

Designing LPWAN-based asset tracking: a system view

  1. The first step in designing a mobile asset monitoring system is to list all potential stop points for the asset, e.g. for railway cars, these would be freight railway stations and triage/transit centers, or in the case of car distribution companies these would be the distributors.
  2. The second step is to deploy a wide area wireless data collection system: each stop point will be equipped with one, and rarely two or three, radio base stations connected to the internet, usually leveraging existing on-site connectivity or cellular modems. All base stations are coordinated by a central network server, hosted by a service company or owned by the logistics company.
  3. The last step is to equip all moving assets with a LPWAN tracker, typically with a long-lasting primary battery, like the ones offered by Abeeway. These trackers will report stop and start events, so that downtime may be measured, but may also periodically report at rest or in transit to maintain continuous tracking.
  4. In some countries, roaming agreements with public LPWAN networks also allow precise monitoring during transit. Any large or small businesses can deploy a hybrid LoRaWAN™ private/public model using Actility’s ThingPark platform.  And even more, in order to enable new multi-country use cases, Actility partners with network operators worldwide to launch ThingPark Exchange, the first LoRaWAN™ international roaming hub for instant packet roaming between their networks (click here to learn how it works).

If you are interested in experiencing low power tracking devices for your use cases, you can test Abeeway trackers using one of our Low Power Location Trial Packages here. 

HERE partners with Actility to locate assets in indoor and outdoor environments

here

The Actility Newsroom

HERE partners with LoRaWAN leader Actility to locate assets in indoor and outdoor environments

Actility and HERE Technologies announce a partnership that will improve the location capabilities of IoT solutions by pinpointing the position of assets accurately, seamlessly and continuously in both indoor and outdoor environments. Combining Actility’s LoRaWAN connectivity management platform and HERE positioning capabilities, this integration will give Actility customers more cost-effective, energy efficient and sustainable solutions for asset management in logistics and supply chain applications across industries.

The combined solution can locate any asset, such as a tool or piece of equipment, with minimal energy consumption and low cost of ownership, bringing plant-to-store goods tracking or industrial supply chain transparency to life.

Actility is a global leader in LoRaWAN connectivity solutions. LoRaWAN is a low-power wireless protocol for wide area networks that allows devices to communicate with IoT applications over long-range wireless connections and with an extended battery life.Actility powers more than 50 service providers in over 30 countries and enables managed enterprise networks for dedicated vertical IoT solutions. As a result, Actility can enable multi-country geolocation solutions using its LoRaWAN roaming hub and Abeeway, its subsidiary that makes low-power, long-life trackers.

Through its partnership with HERE, Actility brings a complete low-power location solution to the market that combines GPS, A-GPS and Wi-Fi positioning. HERE venue mapping and “fingerprinting” (information about the current set of Wi-Fi signals and signal strengths available to a mobile device at a given moment) capabilities significantly improve indoor positioning precision, with an accuracy of five to seven meters.

“Through our new partnership with Actility, we continue to increase our capabilities and presence in the IoT market,” said Francois Fortun, Head of Business Development of IoT Partner Ecosystem at HERE. “HERE is a worldwide leader in mapping and location services, providing the highest levels of accuracy and global coverage, and our ongoing growth in this market underscores our position as the go-to location services provider for IoT technology.”

“Asset tracking is a strategic market for Actility, especially since our acquisition of Abeeway last year, which strengthened our solution portfolio with a LoRaWAN tracking device,” said Olivier Hersent, CEO of Actility. “Today, we are very enthusiastic to join forces with HERE to fill what we believe to be a gap in the market: multi-country, low-power geolocation solutions with increased accuracy in almost every situation and a compelling business case based on low TCO.”

Actility and machineQ Demonstrate Asset Tracking Solution at MWC Americas

MachineQ logo

The Actility Newsroom

Actility and machineQ Demonstrate Asset Tracking Solution at MWC Americas

Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) and IoT location solutions, and machineQ, Comcast’s IoT network service and platform, are together demonstrating an asset tracking solution at Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in San Francisco. Connecting Abeeway Master Tracker hardware to Actility’s ThingPark IoT software platform using the machineQ LoRaWAN network in San Francisco, the demonstration monitors the location of a number of Comcast’s XFINITYTM service vehicles in near real time.

“Tracking maintenance vehicles is a clear demonstration of the power of IoT to optimise essential industrial activities,” explains Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “The first step is to knowing where your vehicles are, but knowing where they are is just the beginning. Beyond that, you can begin to apply sophisticated analytics and machine learning to optimise every truck roll, improving efficiency for the enterprise and quality of service to consumers at the same time. Business cases like this are why we believe that geolocation could be the killer app for the IoT globally.”

“We are seeing significant interest in tracking technology across entirely new verticals and use cases where existing tracking technology has been ineffective due to expensive hardware, short battery life, and high connectivity costs,” says Alex Khorram, machineQ General Manager. “We are excited to leverage the machineQ network with Actility in San Francisco and across the wider Comcast footprint to help bring this innovative technology to market.”

The demonstration solution, which is on show at Actility’s booth N.701 at MWCA, sees  Abeeway Master Trackers, operating on the 915 Mhz ISM band frequency required for the US market, installed in five of Comcast’s XFINITY service vehicles in the North Bay area of San Francisco.  Actility works with machineQ, and the solution utilizes the machineQ network deployed in the Bay Area region.

The tracking solution is highly flexible, thanks to LoRaWAN’s bidirectional communication capabilities. For example, the behaviour of the trackers can be adjusted depending on the status of the vehicle, sending precise location data every minute when the vehicles are moving, but only once an hour if the vehicle is stationary and parked in a depot. The Abeeway Master Tracker is a self-contained industrial product with an internal battery giving it a field life of up to several years, so tracking is not dependent on power from the vehicle being available. The tracker also uses Actility’s innovative “Low-Power GPS” technology specifically optimized for LoRaWAN, which uses fewer satellites and reduces the GPS lock time to a few seconds. The power required for both signal acquisition and processing is reduced: this combination results in a dramatic increase in battery life, by an order of magnitude versus existing GPS location technology. Using this low-power GPS, the trackers will be able to achieve an overall location accuracy of within 5 meters throughout the 5-day duration of the trial deployment.

“We’re delighted to be working with machineQ on this demonstration of the power of geolocation at the leading US telecoms event,” concludes Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “This demonstration is just the first step on a road together to deploy solutions that will accelerate the digital transformation of logistics, supply chain management and transportation services throughout the US.”

Actility acquires Abeeway, creating a world-leading portfolio of location technologies

Actility acquires Abeeway

The Actility Newsroom

Actility acquires Abeeway, creating a world-leading portfolio of location technologies

Abeeway aquisition by Actility signature
Actility CTO Olivier Hersent (centre left) welcomes Abeeway founder Florian Sforza (centre right) to the Actility team (Photo: Éole – http://eole.me – for Actility)

Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) today announces that it has acquired Abeeway, the geolocation system specialist. By combining Abeeway’s patented location software and innovative products with the power of Actility’s ThingPark platform, the acquisition will give Actility a best in class portfolio of IoT location services to support service providers and IoT solution vendors across a wide range of industry sectors. The acquisition is Actility’s first following a $75m. fundraising round supported by new and existing investors, which is intended to enhance its technology portfolio and accelerate worldwide growth.

“We’re seeing massive demand for location-aware IoT solutions from industry,” says Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “We’ve been rapidly developing our ThingPark Location platform to deliver powerful tools to service providers and our customers in the tracking ecosystem. As a long-time partner with Abeeway, we saw great potential in adding their patented assisted GPS (A-GPS) technology and expertise in tracking to the capabilities of our ThingPark platform. This combination offers game-changing geolocation capabilities from an accuracy, speed, power consumption and TCO standpoint. We’re creating an IoT location platform that will enable a revolution in the logistics and supply chain sector. In fact, we think that geolocation and tracking are potentially the killer app for the whole of the Internet of Things.”

Abeeway is already a market leader in tracking devices offering on-demand geolocation, movement alerts or geofencing. These trackers use GPS signals to determine their location, but energy-efficient LoRaWAN communication to pass that location to a tracking application, so in comparison with trackers using cellular networks, they offer much longer battery life. 

Since the first LoRaWAN tracker was presented by Abeeway in 2015, Abeeway has continuously improved IoT tracking solutions, developing the first patented low power GPS (A-GPS for IOT) as well as data fusion to optimize localization & power consumption.

Major players have already selected Abeeway products such as the Master Tracker and Micro Tracker. Becoming part of Actility’s rapid growth will allow us to leverage their market leading LPWA platform and global reach to satisfy the massive market demand for IoT location use cases. Abeeway products will also continue to be available for every LPWAN network.

Florian Sforza

Abeeway Founder

Actility logo

The unique advantage of our platform is its ability to serve a huge variety of use cases by combining different location technologies including network-based TDoA location, GPS and A-GPS, Bluetooth beacons and wi-fi “sniffing."

Our customers can optimise their solutions to precisely match the requirements of their target use cases.

Olivier Hersent, Founder and CTO

Actility

The key innovation developed by Abeeway, providing a powerful competitive advantage to Actility location services, is an assisted GPS technology specifically optimized for LoRaWAN, which allows fewer satellites to be used for a fix and reduces the GPS lock time to a few seconds. The power required for both GPS signal acquisition and processing is reduced: this combination results in a dramatic increase in battery life, by an order of magnitude versus existing GPS location technology.

“We’re delighted to be bringing the Abeeway team and portfolio on board to pioneer this next evolution of IoT technology. Together we’re going to create a truly revolutionary global capability for the next generation of IoT solutions” concludes Actility CEO Mike Mulica.

ThingPark Location services will be accessible through APIs, which, coupled with the bidirectional capability of the LoRaWAN link, will allow developers to manage geolocation according to the needs of their application. For example, in an asset tracking and theft prevention scenario, the application may use low-power consumption network-based location to “geofence” a vehicle, raising an alert only when it strays outside a defined area. But if the vehicle breaks through that geofence, then the application can request regular GPS-based location updates to enable the vehicle to be traced in real time and recovered.